Center for American Progress

How U.S. Federal Courts Affect Everyday American Life

How U.S. Federal Courts Affect Everyday American Life

U.S. Federal Courts exercise tremendous influence, making decisions that affect the everyday lives of Americans across the country.

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idea_bulbNo matter the issue—whether it’s marriage equality, voting rights, health care, or immigration—the U.S. federal courts play a vital role in the lives of all Americans. There are two types of courts: state and federal. The federal courts are those established to decide disagreements that concern the Constitution, congressional legislation, and certain state-based disputes.

Although most Americans are familiar with the lifetime appointment of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, many are surprised to learn that more than 900 judges have lifetime appointments to serve on lower federal courts, where they hear many more cases than their counterparts on the Supreme Court. Each year, the Supreme Court reviews around 100 of the most significant cases out of the nearly 30 million cases resolved by state and federal courts. These courts hear the majority of cases and, most of the time, they have the final say.

That is why, along with the Supreme Court’s justices, the judges who sit on the nation’s federal district and circuit courts are so important.

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